WEBCOMIC WEDNESDAY REVIEW: The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn

Christmas is bearing down upon us, but if you’re looking for something to fill the void between feasts (and awkward family gatherings), then I’m back again to bring you your next favorite webcomic (hopefully) while you loaf about on the couch! Please, if you have any feedback, leave it here in the comments or contact me on Twitter (@Sully_Writes). And as always, if you have or know of a webcomic that you’d like to see reviewed, reach out and let me know!

Creator: Tri Vuong
Webcomic: The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn

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A fine evening indeed.

The majority of the time that I review webcomics, I work off of a list of individuals that have made requests for their own comics to be looked over. Sometimes, however, I find the time to suss out treasures on my own; or, in this case, have them referred to me by friends that know my personal tastes. This is why I try to include, with most comic reviews, a description of the type of person that I would refer the given webcomic to. Word of mouth is vital to the success of a series, and even if it’s not something that the reader of my cumbersome review might enjoy, it’s always my sincere hope that they know of someone who might enjoy it.

Webcomics are a labor of love, after all; and that love should be requited.

I love The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn.

Summary: The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn is mysterious. A noir-esque supernatural ghost-busting journey, the webcomic follows the titular character (Oscar Zahn) as he unravels the nightmares of the departed with his companion (Agnes). Oscar’s mission is to assuage the pain of those that were wronged in death and help them to find peace in the despair that they have become lost in. However, there is more to the skull than meets the eye, and there are layers of intrigue that have yet to be explored.

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Story: The story of Oscar Zahn is inundated in not only the supernatural, but in the historical. The chapters are backed with real-world information and facts that makes them feel more tangible and less outlandish, despite the floating skull that progresses the plot along. The amount of care and detail that goes into weaving these aspects together is impressive. The integration feels incredibly natural, and that is a feat in and of itself.

Typically, I am not a fan of infinitely vertical strips. I enjoy the restrictions placed on stories by page dimensions and the number of unique ways that artists can come up with to create unique scenes on those pages. However, The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn make use of this format to excellent effect. I cannot, in good conscience, say that the webcomic is inventive in its use of panels or orientation, because they are predominately square, single-panel scenes. However, I can say that the format is used to create a powerful pace.

Pace is an area in which many comics, especially webcomics, struggle. But Oscar Zahn’s story is beautifully metered, even while being predominately silent. There are places in which things become wordy, in later chapters. However, for the most part, this webcomic exemplifies “show, don’t tell.”

The characters are enjoyable, relatable, and elusive. The dialogue is believable. And the story is a blast to read.

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Art: The art of The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn is undeniably Mignola. The inspiration is there, however, it doesn’t feel cheap or forced. The energy of the scenes is beautiful. And especially, Tri Vuong excels in powerful-single panel scenes. There are so many impactful moments displayed in the comic that I actually had trouble narrowing down the selection of images to use in this review.

The color palette of this webcomic is somehow simultaneously muted and gorgeous. When color is introduced, it wields a gravity that few other comics do. The simplicity, the texture, and the tangible grit amidst a cartoonish style bring a unique look to The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn.

One area in which the comic falls a bit short is the lettering. The word balloons are often pixelated and distracting. There is an issue with the quality of the layer, and it’s disappointing that they exist alongside such gorgeous art and story.

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Conclusion: Recommend this comic to everyone, but especially recommend it to those who enjoy the somber supernatural. If you’ve ever had a friend who mentioned enjoying Hellboy, then this is the comic for them. And you. And your mother. Everyone.

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